1860ís American Civil War Envelope Cover Works of Art & Propaganda

SKU: AUT7604


Original & Rare American Civil War Cover-Envelope; The Monkey Speaker, "The Speaker of the House..." Text reads: "The Speaker of the House of the "Southern Confederacy" now Assembled, July 20th, 1861."  Printed & Published by: Copyright secured Brown & Ryan, New York.  Anti-Confederate American Civil War Illustrated Cover-Envelope copyright 1861, - 5 3/4 x 3 1/8.  Brown ink die, printed on early American made envelope with full flap closure and gum on verso; a lovely organic rich golden-browning hue seen with minimal abrasion & a minor tear along edge (e.g., out of field). Overall, fine/very fine condition.

The First Confederate Congress was the first regular term of the legislature of the Confederate States of America. Members of the First Confederate Congress were chosen in elections mostly held on November 6, 1861. 

The Provisional Confederate Congress fixed the date of the inaugural meeting of the Firsy Confederate Congress. As a result, the two-year congressional term ran from February 18, 1862 until February 18, 1864. All sessions of the Firsy Confederate Congress met in the Confederacy’s capital of Richmond, Virginia. 

Speaker of the House of Representatives: Thomas Stanley Bocock of Virginia - February 18, 1862 - March 18, 1865. 

Thomas Salem Bocock (May 18, 1815 – August 5, 1891) was a nineteenth-century politician and lawyer from Virginia. After serving as an antebellum United States Congressman, he was the Speaker of the Confederate States House of Representatives during most of the American Civil War. 

Born at Buckingham County Court House in Buckingham, Virginia, he was the sixth of eleven children born to John Thomas Bocock (a farmer, lawyer, clerk of the Appomattox County Court House and friend of Thomas Jefferson) and Mary Flood (of a powerful and distinguished family which later produced Henry Flood Byrd), Thomas Bocock was educated by his father and other private teachers as a child. He attended Hampden–Sydney College, where he befriended Robert L. Dabney (his rival for class valectedorian) and graduated in 1838. 

Bocock studied law under his eldest brother and was admitted to the bar in 1840. He began his legal practice in Buckingham Court House, and was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, where he served from 1842 to 1844. He was also the first prosecuting attorney for Appomattox County, Virginia when it split off Buckingham County, serving from 1845 to 1846. 

Bocock was elected a Democrat to the United States House of Representatives in 1846, serving from 1847 to 1861. He became chairman of the Committee on Naval Affairs from 1853 to 1855 and again from 1857 to 1859. 

In 1859, Bocock was nominated for Speaker of the House, but withdrew after eight weeks of debate and multiple ballots failed to elect a speaker. 

A committed slaveholder and Southern nationalist, Bocock praised Sen. Preston Brook's attack on Charles Sumner, but later reinvented himself as a moderate on the Kansas slavery issue. Bocock spoke at the inauguration of the Washington Equine Statue on the grounds of the state Capital in Richmond in 1860, but his rise in Confederate circles came after his speech against Force Bill on February 20 and 21, 1861 (which he had published and distributed at Virginia’s Secession Convention). 

Bocock was unanimously elected Speaker of the Confederate States House of Representatives, and served from 1862 to 1865. However, in the final year, he broke with President Jefferson Davis and his personal friend and political ally Secretary of War James A. Seddon over the issue of arming slaves, arguing that such would be tantamount to abolishing slavery, as did his ally Robert M. T. Hunter. He left Richmond during the April 1865 evacuation, and later fled his home, Wildway. 

As the war ended at nearby Appomattox Court House, Bocock owned more than twenty slaves. He did not want to pay his former slaves as workers, instead telling them he would provide food and shelter, as he had under slavery. Bocock even tried to purchase several formerly enslaved people from neighbors. The African Americans appealed to the provost marshal, who said they deserved "liberal compensation."  

Bocock moved to Lynchburg (maintaining Wildway as his summer home), where he practiced law and helped form the Virginia Conservative Party. He supported President Andrew Johnson for election in 1868 (although probably too important a Confederate official to be covered by his controversial amnesty declarations), and later unsuccessful Democratic Presidential candidates Horace Greeley in 1872 and Samuel Tilden in 1876. 

One of the architects of Jim Crow Laws, Bocock served in Virginia's House of Delegates again from 1877 to 1879. He was a delegate to the Democratic National Conventions in 1868, 1876 and 1880. Bocock opposed the Virginia Readjuster Party and ultimately handed over the political reins to a younger generation, including Alexander H. H. Stuart, and concentrated on his legal practice and family. 

He died in Appomattox County, Virginia, on August 5, 1891, and was interred at Old Bocock Cemetery near his plantation, “Wildway.” 

The printing and publications of pre-American Civil War envelopes began as early as the mid-1850’s, when north-south divisions began to take shape, but ended prior to the war's conclusion because most believed that it was too indulgent and expensive to continue production in a time of war. 

These Civil War envelopes, some of which have been called early versions of pictorial postcards, were very popular with collectors of patriotic propaganda. 

The subjects illustrated on these envelopes varied from the Stars and Bars of the Confederacy, to caricatures of important war heroes. Though popular with collectors, these envelopes are a very underutilized source of Civil War iconography. The majority of the envelopes are about 3 x 5” in size, and were published in nearly all of the major cities, with New York and Boston being the largest producers. 

In 1861 and the years that followed, many American men found themselves far from home. Farmhands from rural New York walked the streets of Washington, D.C., serving in the Union Army of the Potomac. Boys from Maine, fought in the forests of Virginia. More than 2.6 million men joined the Union Army over the course of the war, while roughly a million joined the Confederate forces. 

The volume of mail ticked upward with letters to distant homes, and when it was time to send a letter, soldiers and civilians alike reached for a new kind of envelope, freshly printed and decorated with red and blue flags, delicate engravings of eagles, poems about the girl left behind, or the faces of generals, whom people at home might never have seen. 

There were many such envelopes to choose from: over the course of the war, 10,000 or more Union designs were printed up, says Steven Boyd, a historian from Univ. of Texas, San Antonio. During the War Between the States, you could buy a hundred or more different designs in a single packet for one dollar. 

These patterns range from simple flags and mottos to macabre revenge fantasies, with the hanged bodies of Southern generals lining the road to Washington. For a brief period at the beginning of the war, envelopes and/or covers were printed in the Confederacy as well, and Southerners could send letters with a portrait of Jefferson Davis, “Our First President,” or any number of depictions of the new nation’s flag. 

In the South, pro-Confederate envelopes were being sold even before the first shots were fired, says Trish Kaufmann, a collector and expert on Confederate postal history. “They were the dissidents, the ones trying to drum up patriotic fervor” first, she pointed out. 

Again, envelopes, featuring the original Confederate flag—with seven white stars on a blue rectangle and a red-and-white-striped background—flew off the presses. When new states seceded, rushed printers scratched in new stars or just small crosses on their plates to update the flag. 

The South was not a manufacturing society, and it had to import it’s paper, as well as inks, from England also, from the North at times. With a Union blockade keeping ships from reaching Confederate ports, paper was soon scarce and by 1863, very few envelopes were being printed. 

As a result, there are envelopes or covers with portraits of General P.G.T. Beauregard, an early Confederate hero, but none of General Robert E. Lee or General Stonewall Jackson, as these two generals rose to prominence during the second half of the American Civil War.